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Auburn's 'Mad Dog' takes a bite out of inactivity
He's known as "Mad Dog," a retired military man intensively driven to help others succeed.
He is also a beloved husband, doting dad, hands-on teacher and self-made businessman.
Auburn's Thomas Schneider admits he is wired differently, but his disciplined, regimented past as a good soldier, specialist, recruiter and trainer has led him to believe he can move mountains and change the course of those living unhealthy lifestyles.
When he left behind a 20-year career in the U.S. Army – including duty in war-torn Afghanistan – Schneider decided to take the battle back home. Today he leads the fight against fat, training Everyday Joes to become G.I. Joes. He urges them to follow efficient, customized physical fitness routines and select smart menu choices at the dinner table.
"I grew up in the projects in Seattle and grew up on government cheese," he said, "and everybody needs a helping hand once in awhile. I've always been that person who wanted to help people, and fitness, athletics, sports have been a part of my life."
Combing his military, health and fitness and business experience, Schneider came up with an idea to run his own mobile brigade – Mad Dog Boot Camp Fitness – which deploys to outdoor playgrounds and gyms in Auburn.
His fitness boot camps have found an outdoor home from April to September – come rain or shine – on Chinook Elementary Playfield for more than three years, and his year-round indoor camp is frequently offered at the Auburn Parks, Arts and Rec Building on the Les Gove campus.
His camps are not for everyone, yet he reaches out to all walks, to anyone 16-60 years old, civilian or military, focusing on full-body circuit-training style workouts geared toward improving a person's overall cardiovascular ability, strength and endurance. As a former Army master fitness trainer, Schneider tries to keep his camps authentic, running them like any normal physical training session that many experience in the military today.
"If you're already in great shape, I'll kick your butt a little harder. If you're not in the greatest shape, I'll modify things," Schneider said. "I always say, 'Let your body be your guide.'"
Exercise boot camps are a new craze in losing weight, attractive to those with busy schedules who need to pack a hard workout in a quick hour.
Schneider's camps blend supervised fitness training with the motivation, accountability and camaraderie of a group setting. Boot camps combine the latest exercise science with old-school circuit training.
"I'm a different beast, a different animal," Schneider said. "My motto is to dig deep, zone it out, have fun and never quit.
"Group fitness, high-intensity training or circuit groups have come to the forefront more in the last five years," Schneider said. "It's not that
anyone is better than the other, it takes the right coach with the right client to equal success."
Schneider gives you an Army-style workout but does so carefully. He checks his client's heart rate, blood pressure, and modifies workouts to fit their capabilities. Between shouts of encouragement come smiles and jokes to keep workouts engaging.
He understands limitations, having endured his share of injures over the course of his military career.
"I'm 64-percent disabled," said the 43-year-old Schneider. "I've had two hip operations, elbow and ankle surgeries. I've learned to work around injuries.
"If you can't do a certain jump or run, then you walk real fast," he said. "If there's certain squats you can't bend to, you modify it. If you can't do a jumping jack, I've got one called 'Jack LaLanne meets Richard Simmons.'"
But no matter how much Schneider works to improve health and fitness, he tries to keep his passion in perspective.
"If we don't have balance in our life with our beliefs, family, friends, work, etc. ... and create a mind and body connection, we will continue to struggle," he said. "It's so important to have some balance today."
Mad Dog Boot Camp Fitness offers free fitness boot camps to support the Auburn Food Bank on selected Saturdays through August.
The free camp runs 10:30-11:30 a.m. at the Chinook Elementary playground, 3502 Auburn Way S. The next camp is April 28.
Your only requirement to attend is to donate at least one canned or boxed food, baby products, or hygiene/personal care products for the
cause. Organic products welcome.
Free camps are offered every other Saturday – May 12, 26; June 9, 23; July 14, 28; Aug. 11, 25.
For more information, call 253-736-5740. Mad Dog Boot Camp Fitness can be found on Facebook.